NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A top tourism executive said yesterday American Airline’s decision to introduce pre-flight COVID-19 tests on passengers to The Bahamas was “absolutely a blessing” for this destination, with the hope that other airlines servicing the country would adopt the practice.
Kerry Fountain, The Bahamas Out Island Promotion Board’s (BOIPB) executive director, said: “It is absolutely a blessing for us, and a trigger for the hope that this will be done by other airlines like Delta, Silver Airways, Air Canada, Tropic Ocean Airways, Makers Air, Bahamasair, etc., which all serve the Bahamas Out Islands from North American gateways.”
“The “calculated” elimination of the quarantine is critical as 20 – 25 percent of all visitors come to the Out Islands for water sport activities like boating, deep-sea fishing, fly-fishing, and diving. Factor in beaches and popular activities like swimming with the pigs, and the need to eliminate the quarantine order is even more pressing.”
Fountain continued: ”With dreams and hopes come responsibility though. We now need to ensure, for the safety of residents and employees, visitors, and investors/employers alike, we (Bahamians and residents) exhibit best COVID-19 practices of wearing our masks, social distancing and frequently sanitizing/washing our hands. Add to this mandatory rapid COVID-19 testing of relevant staff; the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism Clean & Pristine certification and training for stakeholders as well as organized.
“If you see something, say something” Tourism “neighborhood watch” program by island or “region” of the island.”
American Airlines announced yesterday that it is partnering with the Bahamian government to launch COVID-19 pre-flight testing for passengers beginning next month.
The airline said that as part of an ongoing effort to help protect customer health and safety, inspire confidence in air travel and advance the industry’s recovery from the (COVID-19) pandemic, it is “collaborating with several foreign governments to begin offering pre-flight COVID-19 testing for customers traveling to international destinations, starting with Jamaica and the Bahamas”.
The Ministry of Tourism has recommended that hotels across the country resume full operations, including the use of beaches, on October 15, although major resorts such as Baha Mar and Atlantis have already indicated that they are postponing their reopening dates.
While the government initially proposed a vacation in place (VIP) initiative, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar recently told Eyewitness News that his ministry was working hard alongside the Ministry of Health to reach a compromise over the mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement for visitors.